NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — As the holidays approach, several groups are reminding people about the importance of staying sober while driving.
In 2021, as of December 22, Louisiana State Police Troop B has investigated 31 fatal crashes, resulting in 37 deaths.
That’s five more crashes and 10 more deaths than last year.
Statewide, troopers have investigated 900 deaths that were caused by wrecks.
One mother in Algiers has a plea for drivers.
“The sadness, the shock, the horror of it all…”
Sarah Douglas is describing the night her nine-year-old daughter Abby was killed when a man accused of drunk driving rear-ended their minivan in Gretna.
“[Abby] should still be here, and it’s just because of someone’s stupid choice to drink and drive that she’s not,” said Douglas. “She wasn’t sick; she was totally healthy. She had her whole life ahead of her, and this guy’s choice killed her.”
Since Abby’s death, Douglas is making it her mission to raise awareness about the dangers and consequences of driving under the influence.
“You really don’t know what it’s like until you’re in those shoes, and I think that’s part of the problem.” Douglas continued, “I think that is why a lot of people drink and drive, or they say, ‘Oh, I haven’t had too much to drink. I’ll be fine,’ because you don’t think about it until you’re in the shoes of having killed a nine-year-old.”
Douglas now must figure out how to navigate the holidays without Abby.
“Christmas Eve will be two months since she died, and hanging the stockings on the mantel… It hit me like a brick,” said Douglas. “I mean, I know she’s gone, but the act of hanging those stockings, it makes you realize, wait a minute, I was like, ‘why do I have an extra stocking,’ and then I realized it’s Abby’s stocking.”
Abby’s mother says the responsibility of safety doesn’t only lie on those who wish to drink.
“There’s so many things you can do as a sober individual, so that you are saving a life potentially by not putting someone behind a wheel,” said Douglas. That’s definitely something that I would encourage everyone to think. It’s not just on the people who are drinking; it’s on all of us.”
Douglas was able to team up with a few local billboard companies to put Abby’s face and their message on billboards across the New Orleans area.
Douglas has also created stickers of the same image.
They’re hoping the billboards and stickers will serve as a reminder for people to stay sober while behind the wheel.
Once the holidays are over, however, Douglas’s fight continues.